George H.W. and Barbara Bush celebrate 73 years of marriage (PHOTOS)

The longest-married couple in U.S. presidential history celebrates 73 years of marriage this weekend. Former President George Herbert Walker Bush and Barbara Pierce Bush were wed on January 6, 1945, and their love story is indeed one for the ages.

The 41st President of the United States met the woman who would become his wife when he was just 16. She was home from boarding school on holiday break. 

After a couple of years of long-distance dating, they were engaged, just before Bush shipped off to serve as a naval pilot in World War II after he enlisted on his 18th birthday. They were later wed at the First Presbyterian Church in Rye, New York, which is also Mrs. Bush's hometown.

Bush was the youngest pilot in the Navy when he got his wings, flying 58 combat missions during World War II. On September 2, 1944, he was shot down by Japanese antiaircraft fire during a mission over the Pacific Ocean, and a U.S. submarine crew rescued him from the water. His two crewmen were killed. He was honorably discharged from the Navy in September 1945, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.


Photo credit: George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

He went on to earn an economics degree from Yale University, and then moved to Texas with Barbara and their oldest son, George W., to begin a career in the oil business. Like his father Prescott Bush, who served as a Senator from Connecticut, he became interested in politics and public service. 


Photo credit: George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

George H.W. Bush would serve two terms in Congress representing the state of Texas, and he ran twice for Senate, though unsuccessfully. After that, he held a number of high-level positions including U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Chief of the U. S. Liaison Office in the People’s Republic of China, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

In 1980, Bush campaigned for the Republican nomination for President and lost, but was chosen as a running mate by Ronald Reagan and went on to become the Vice President of the United States. 

He tried again and won the Republican nomination for President in 1988, and after defeating Michael Dukakis in the general election, Bush was sworn in as the 41st President of the United States on January 20, 1989, with Barbara by his side. 


Photo credit: George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

Through the years, the Bushes had four sons-- George W., who became the 43rd President of the United States in 2001;  John Ellis-- better known as Jeb-- who was the 43rd Governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007; Marvin and Neil, and a daughter, Doro. Their second child, a daughter named Robin, died in 1953 at the age of 3 after battling leukemia. 


Photo credit: George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

Over the years, they have become grandparents 17 times, and also have seven great-grandchildren. 


Photo credit: Getty Images

In November, George H.W. Bush, now 93, became the longest-living commander-in-chief in U.S. history. The former first lady is now 92 years old. 


Photo credit: Getty Images

During the first 44 years of their marriage, the Bush family moved a total of 29 different times. They now reside in Houston, Texas and Kennebunkport, Maine. According to his biography on the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library website, the former president takes pride in the fact that all of his children and grandchildren are helping others in their own communities. 


Photo credit: Getty Images

See more photos of the Bushes through the years in the slideshow above. 
 

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